My skin responds well to retinoids. Most of them, actually. I’ve only ever felt like backing down and out once: after upgrading my Tazorac cream from 0.5% to 0.1% strength. For well over a decade, I’ve felt lucky to be able to hop around various formulas (Rx and OTC) and achieve noticeably positive results without side effects, which often include dryness, flaking, and redness, to name a few. With that said, I realize that, for many, prescription strength retinoids can be A LOT to handle. And over the counter options can be tricky to navigate. Unless you know your Vitamin A derivatives, you may quickly become flustered, especially sifting through the abundance of marketing claims and curious definitions of reliable results. Where should you start? Retinal. Say hello to the new Maelove Moonlight Retinal Super Serum.
What is it?
Maelove may be best known for its Glow Maker Serum, an antioxidant powerhouse often compared with the much pricier CE Ferulic from Skinceuticals. This Fall, the brand unveiled a counterpart to help fight signs of aging in a new, potent overnight solution. Moonlight is fueled by Retinaldehyde (Retinal for short), a Vitamin A derivative that is a step above Retinol and two steps above the most common ester Retinyl Palmitate in terms of strength and efficacy. This means only a single step is required to convert to Retinoic Acid (Retinol requires two and Retinyl Palmitate three). In addition to making it significantly more effective (since it works faster), I’ve found it to be quite gentle on my skin.
It took me years to figure retinoids out–how they work *exactly* and how to move around various ingredient call-outs. I’m attaching two helpful graphics courtesy of reddit via a recent google search. (P.S. my preference is for Retinol and Retinaldehyde in OTC products and I’m a successful user of Tazarotene for years).
What does it do?
In short, retinoids stimulate collagen synthesis (our bodies slow down significantly in producing cell binding protein after we turn 30) which results in firmer, healthier, bouncier looking skin. Retinoids are also proven to work on acneic skin types, address dull/uneven tone and texture as well as smooth out the appearance of imperfections and enlarged pores. As someone who should address and correct half of the above, I am really impressed with Maelove’s Moonlight which is powered by 0.11% concentration of Retinaldehyde. It quickly became my go-to on nights I take a break from my Rx strength retinoid.
What’s in it?
The bright yellow (if you’re a retinoid user, you know the yellow hue is very much sought after) serum lotion hybrid is packed with not just the hero Reinaldehyde but also nourishing and soothing botanicals such as Cranberry, Cloudberry, and Green Tea Leaf Extracts, Magnolia Seed Oil as well as Niacinamide to name a few. It’s truly a juicy, glow boosting medley. Per Jackie Kim, the Maelove founder with whom I had a pleasure of chatting before the launch, Moonlight has a two year shelf life.
Why it works for me
What I like about Moonlight is how lightweight it feels. Suggested for night time use, it layers great under a richer moisturizer (currently using Circumference which is amazing) or any of my favorite face oils. And you will need to add a moisturizer on top as Moonlight can be a tad drying on its own. After a few weeks of every other day or so application, I am impressed with how smooth my skin feels. It’s also looking brighter and more even. My pores take the longest to show any sign of improvement (aiming for that refined look here) but I am not giving up just yet. The trick to achieving desired results from retinoids is consistency. Sometimes it can take up to 2-3 months to notice visible (read: dramatic) changes to your skin. Luckily, I’ve also experienced absolutely no dryness nor redness.
It’s also very budget friendly
As someone who enjoyed absolutely nothing about the super well priced retinol formulas from The Ordinary, I’ve become skeptical of the suspiciously affordable launches. It doesn’t help that the Retinal cream I’ve been using almost all year is… $200. In its defense, it’s a gorgeous and well-rounded night time moisturizer. The Maelove Moonlight serum is a steal to be celebrated at $34.95 and a brilliant gateway into a retinoid adventure. Three things to remember when your bottle arrives: stick to night time use, moisturizer right after, always wear broad spectrum sunscreen during the day.
$34.95 (30ml dropper bottle) at mealove.com